PO’IPU — It’s the 23rd year of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, the 12th straight at the Poipu Bay Golf Course, but it might be the last.
Leaders of the PGA (Professional Golfers Association) are entertaining offers from other venues.
“We’ve had more serious inquiries this year, compared to other years. Las Vegas, the Caribbean are some possible options,” PGA spokes-person Julius Mason said.
A slew of locals and visitors roamed the course yesterday, taking in the Champions Clinic, which featured both Michael Campbell and Vijay Singh and some of Kaua’i’s talented junior golfers, like Miki Ueoka and Michael Garcia.
However, the buzz all day came from the absences of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. Woods, who reaggravated an ankle injury at the first playoff hole of the Dunlap Phoenix on Sunday, arrived on Kaua’i early Sunday morning a bit under the weather.
According to a statement released by the PGA, a local doctor treated Woods for a stomach virus, and told him to rest all day yesterday. However, he is expected to play in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, which begins today at noon.
Sunny Po’ipu turned into rainy Po’ipu during certain parts of the afternoon, but that didn’t stop hundreds of fans in their pursuit of autographs and photo opportunities.
Amy Clise, a visitor from Seattle, along with her daughter Laura and niece Jaclyn Marugame, who is visiting from Alaska, were some of the lucky few to get Singh’s autograph.
While the Clise ladies were at the Grand Slam, the men (William and Steven) were busy golfing on the other side of the island, at the Princeville Makai Golf Course.
“They told us to get Tiger’s autograph and get a bunch of stuff signed, but he’s not here, so I guess they’re out of luck,” Amy Clise said.
While some visited the merchandise tent, others looked for a shady spot to watch the field of pros and amateurs, maybe for the last time on Kaua’i.
“We’re going to be bummed out. People love this place,” said Max Bancroft, who is here for the 10th time as a Grand Slam spectator. “It’s good for our little island. We’re going to miss the exposure, and I don’t see any good coming out of it.”
Because of Woods’ anticipated presence, the amount of first-time spectators at the event grew.
“I think they should keep it here. I don’t know why they’d want to change it,” first-time spectator Darin Sollitt said.
Kaua’i junior golfer Sean Mamaclay enjoys the Grand Slam of Golf because it’s the only time he can get up close and personal with professional golfers.
“I’m kind of mad because it’s been here so long, and I wouldn’t want to see it go. It’s good for us because we get to meet the players,” Mamaclay said.
O’ahu residents Jerome and Paula Fukuda, who are first-timers at the event, said that it’s not a good idea to move the Grand Slam away from Kaua’i.
“It brings recognition to not only Kaua’i, but the rest of the state. I think there’s less appeal to go if it’s not here on Kaua’i,” Jerome Fukuda said.
Dawn Luna of Chicago made her third straight trip to Kaua’i, with her family, to see the Grand Slam.
“That’d be a shame. The reason why we come here is to see this event,” Luna said.
But enjoying this year and its terrific field of golfers seemed to be the collective mood of most in yesterday’s gallery.
According to Mason, a decision to either move the Grand Slam of Golf or keep it here on the island won’t be made at least until January.
The first round of the 36-hole PGA Grand Slam of Golf begins today at noon. Wednesday’s final round will start at the same time.
- Duane Shimogawa Jr., sports editor, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 257), or firstname.lastname@example.org